Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Are Angels Gods?

Ok, so once again I am going to use resources outside of the Watchtower so that no one can accuse me of stacking the cards in my favor. Let’s start with a simple concept, the word elohim, which is one of a few Hebrew words for "god," without reference to a specific person. But, as you can see in that linked reference, it really is not that simple. It states that just in the New American Standard Bible (NASB) alone, it has been rendered: divine (1), divine being (1), exceedingly (1), God (2326), god (45), God's (14), goddess (2), godly (1), gods (204), great (2), judges (3), mighty (2), rulers (1), shrine (1). (The parenthetical numbers are number of occurrences for each rendering.) So what, who cares?

Remember: Elohim means "god" or "gods." It never means angels -- or does it!? Even though there is a separate Hebrew word for angel, "malakh," (Ref#2) take note of Psalms 8:5, as rendered by the same reference. It shows that angels are called elohim. Now that may not seem like a big deal but here’s the real eye-opener: Once again, using this very same reference, look at this list of a number of Bible versions that struggle to correctly render Psalms 8:5. They cannot decide if the verse is talking about being made lower than God or lower than angels. Why? Because, as I already mentioned, the Hebrew word appearing there is elohim (god). Most people just cannot accept or grasp that the Bible refers to angels as "gods." (If the translators that had rendered it “God” had only done their research, they would have noted that Paul quoted from this verse at Hebrews 2:7. And surprisingly, in that verse, each of the versions get it right -- ”angels.” So even though Psalms 8:5 is speaking of angels, it calls them gods.)

But is that my only point--some boring discussion on ancient Hebrew? No, it is not. I have to wonder why translators are intentionally smoke-screening their readers, numbing their perceptive powers so that they (the readers) would completely miss the point that elohim does not only refer to Almighty God (God Jehovah) alone. Angels are called “gods” because of their powerful existence as spirit creatures when compared to “mere mortals.” If those translations that had rendered "elohim" in Ps.8:5 as "God" had instead used "gods," they would have been sticking to the correct Hebrew rendering and could have easily inserted a footnote explaining the issue. (By the way, the New World Translation contextually rendered this as "godlike ones," which helps the reader appreciate the nature of those beings in that they are spirits.)

Now for the grand finale: Since angels are called “elohim,” should it surprise anyone that Jesus is also called a Mighty God (el gibbowr), without intending that he is the one-and-only Almighty God (El Shaddai)? Indeed, the term elohim (god) is applied in the Bible to others in a relative sense. But, just as Paul acknowledged: For all those that may be called gods, whether in a relative sense or idols & false gods, when all is said and done there is only one that is preeminently the Most High God (the Father) and one Lord, Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 8:5,6)

For a more in-depth discussion of this, see this article. (Yes, I snuck in one article from the Watchtower -- but only after making my point without it.)

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